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Work From Home Increases Security Risks
November 17, 2020

According to a recent report developed by PWC and reported by the ABC, cybersecurity breaches cost companies an estimated $7.6 billion in the last financial year as COVID-19 pushed employees out of CBD offices and into their home settings.

From April to June this year, Australia experienced a 65 per cent increase in cybersecurity incidents, according to PwC’s 2021 Global Digital Trust Insights survey of thousands of business, technology and security executives from large companies.

Information that was once held exclusively on large protected networks and servers is opening up businesses of all sizes to cybercrime. The issue resides not only in the software or platform vulnerabilities, it is also the devices themselves. There is now a hybrid situation occurring with devices where the line between work and personal is getting blurred.

For example, a personal iPhone may not only be used by the employee for work purposes, they are often picked up and used by family members. And in many cases, this can mean young children. The actions taken on the phone, such as downloading games or access to sensitive information could have unintended consequences.

Other issues may reside within the home network. For example, wi-fi devices that are over 5 years old or out of date firmware. These situations can also create greater security risks.

And all of this adds up, cybercrime is costing the Australian economy billions of dollars.

In June, the Federal Government announced a $1.35 billion lift to defence funding over a decade to boost the cybersecurity capabilities of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).

The perpetrators of cybercrime are commonly well organised financially motivated hackers who are looking to gain access to high worth sensitive information and systems. These hackers are sophisticated and professional criminals.

“International industry research actually shows that more than half of malicious attacks are financially motivated,” Dr Dreyfus, who in 1997 wrote the first major book about hacking in Australia with WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, told the ABC.

According to the ABC, in the past year, ransomware attacks have crippled organisation and institutions as varied as Victorian country hospitals, logistics company Toll, Service NSW, Anglicare Sydney, money management company MyBudget and the hot strip mill of BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla plant.

Attacks even shut wool sales across Australia in February.

Ransomware is malicious software that goes inside existing computer networks. The software steals information from computers and then demands a fee for it to be returned or stops the system from working until a ransom is paid.

While it can seem very complicated and difficult to navigate the best practices when it comes to keeping systems and devices secure. Luckily it is not expensive or complex to make critical changes

In 2020 the work from home revolution was a surprise for most business. 2021 will not see a massive movement back to the office. Therefore investing now in simple measures will ensure that data and systems will continue to be protected in the future.

Dr Neo suggests the following recommendations:

  • Have ‘full disc encryption’ (FDE) turned on
  • Always have a passcode on your phone
  • Use two-factor authentication. For example, requiring a text message to your phone to get access to social media accounts on your computer
  • Get password manager software
  • Update your software regularly
  • Replace your modem and wi-fi devices if they are more than 5 years old
  • Don’t reuse passwords
  • Check to see if any of your passwords have been compromised by visiting your Apple Passwords or Google Chrome. Google will issue warnings and if your passwords are the same for multiple accounts, now is a good time to change them

We are always happy to help with any security concerns. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with questions or concerns about your devices or software. This is definitely a space to be proactive in, not reactive.